Upon the Petition of LYNETTE ANNE HEIMS, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning BRAD FRANCIS HEIMS, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica
former spouse appeals from the district court's order
terminating spousal support and modifying child support
L. Weiss of Fuerste, Carew, Juergens & Sudmeier, P.C.,
Dubuque, for appellant.
R. McCarthy of Clemens, Walters, Conlon Runde, & Hiatt,
L.L.P., Dubuque, and Darin S. Harmon of Kintzinger, Harmon,
Konrardy, PLC, Dubuque, for appellee.
by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Heims appeals from the district court's order terminating
Brad Heims's spousal support obligation and modifying the
child-support order from their 2014 Illinois dissolution of
marriage decree. She argues a substantial change in
circumstances has not occurred, continuing the spousal and
child support orders is equitable, and the district court
should have awarded her attorney fees. Both parties request
appellate attorney fees. We agree with the court's
termination of spousal support and modification of child
support. We also find no decision on trial attorney fees to
review, and we decline to award appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Proceedings
September 15, 2001, the parties married in Iowa. Four
children were born to the parties between 2001 and 2007. On
February 13, 2014, the parties divorced in Illinois. At that
time, the parties entered into a marital settlement agreement
(MSA), which placed physical care of the children with
Lynette, granted visitation to Brad, and required Brad to pay
child support of $641.13 per week. The MSA also contained the
following provision regarding "Maintenance
[Lynette] shall receive the sum of $160.28 per week, as and
for maintenance for a period of not less than three (3) years
from the date of entry of this Marital Settlement Agreement.
Said amount shall be incorporated into an Order for Support
and a Notice of Withholding shall issue for said amount to
[Brad's] employer. Maintenance may be reviewed by [Brad],
upon proper notice and petition filed at least sixty (60)
days prior to the three-year period herein, to determine if
further maintenance is or is not warranted under the
statutory factors contained in the Illinois Marriage and
Dissolution of Marriage Act then in force and effect, or any
such similar statute in any state in which the parties may
reside and in which the judgment for dissolution of marriage
and this Agreement have been enrolled. Maintenance is
calculated as the amount necessary, in combination with child
support being received by [Lynette], to equal 50% of
[Brad's] net annual income.
the MSA, Lynette received 57.5% of the total marital assets.
Both parties eventually moved to Dubuque County, Iowa, and on
August 21, 2015, the parties registered their dissolution of
marriage decree, including the incorporated MSA, in Iowa. On
December 12, 2016, Brad filed the petition to modify in Iowa,
seeking to terminate his spousal support obligation. On July
27 and August 22, 2017, trial was held on Brad's
petition. At the conclusion of the first day of trial, the
court suggested the parties seek a modification of child
support because the two support calculations are
"totally intertwined." Brad then made such motion
earning her degree as a registered nurse in 1992, Lynette
worked as a nurse until 2002 when she left the workforce to
care for the parties' children. She then allowed her
nursing license to become inactive. In March 2014, Lynette
reactivated her license, which required completing certain
education requirements. She then worked as a nurse, but she
left the position after less than one year because she was
not "up to date on things, and it-it was just very
stressful, going back in there, not knowing any of
that." For the next two years, she provided in-home
assistance to elderly and disabled persons through an agency
that paid her $7.50 per hour. Since 2016, she has provided
in-home assistance to a private individual for about thirty
hours per week at $10 per hour, and she has provided in-home
assistance through another agency for about six hours per
week at $20 per hour. She testified this schedule works well,
allowing her to better care for the parties' children.
Her tax returns show her adjusted gross income was $19, 212
in 2015 and $23, 325 in 2016. As for housing, Lynette owns a
home in Dubuque where she and the parties' four children
reside. She purchased the home from her sister, who had
assisted her during the divorce; Lynette agreed to pay her
back for the home when her finances stabilized. She has
borrowed additional money to fund this transaction.
Lynette's paramour of four years often "stays
overnight" in her home and helps with the parties'
children, but Lynette testified "he doesn't live
the time of trial, Brad lived in a home in Epworth with his
paramour and her three children. He primarily works for a gas
company in Chicago, Illinois, and he also has a hobby farm on
his property, which generally operates at a loss. He
testified he needs to work at least forty-five hours per week
to pay all his obligations. His tax returns show his adjusted
gross income was $122, 822 in 2015 and $106, 983 in
October 8, 2017, the district court issued its modification
order. The court determined the spousal support was intended
as rehabilitative to equalize the parties' incomes while
Lynette returned to the workforce. The court concluded three
years of spousal support was sufficient and terminated the
support. The court also modified Brad's child support
obligation to $2098.14 per month ...